I remember being a kid that moved around a lot as a youth. Born in Texas, moved to Colorado around age 3 or 4 and then to Michigan for 1 year around 6 or 7. By the time I was 7 years old [2nd grade] I had moved more times than my age. While I was in Colorado I lived in at least 4 homes. From 2nd grade to 6th grade I went to a private school called St Ann’s. In these times I didn’t experience bullying in youth sports or at school. Yes, there were the times where kids made fun of each other, but that’s different from kids that continue to make fun of a certain person or group. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Cyberbullying is affecting youths everywhere
Be careful in using social media, because this is where bullying has been happening more than before. There are situations where kids have gone as far as taking their own life because of cyberbullying on Facebook or other social media platforms. Cyberbullying can be worse than your group of people who bully someone at school just because online involves so many more people. This is when the person being bullied thinks that more people saw it than probably really did. Bullying in youth sports doesn’t have to happen on the field or at school. Fatherly has some good information for what parents can do.
How teammates can protect each other
In youth sports or adult sports you have to take up for you teammate. That’s just how it goes, or at least how it should go. You have to take up and protect your teammates and this can easily come from the better players leading by example. If the best players can help the weaker performing players by lifting them up with words it shows the players in the middle how the team works. Once this culture is set it spread for the good.
One of the most painful times is when your own teammate is bullying you. Often times it is the older players bullying the younger teammates or it’s the athletes who don’t perform as well. No matter race, gender or background the best players usually never gets bullied. So the best player should be the player who leads by example in treating everyone good and if they can to speak up about it too. Bullying in youth sports is something together we can help so many more people. Spreading the word and educating coaches, parents and players. Teaching the best players to be the leaders in more than one way.
Treating your opponent with respect
Competing can get heated quick and sometimes the people we play against we just don’t like. And that’s okay, I am not saying we need to like everyone that we play against. But if we can keep means words to ourselves it makes us such a big person. Feel free to knock them around in a legal way, but leave the personal words to yourself. I remember having a few people call me words like monkey, because I am half black. That doesn’t bother me and it really didn’t even then, but I tell you what I still remember it.
High school & college hazing
Bullying and hazing are two words that run together, but are a little bit different. Hazing is more of an accepted thing by some people, where it’s not as personal as bullying. Hazing is more of a “this is how it’s going to go to be a part of this team or group.” Where bullying is usually filled with more hate towards someone or hate filled in the people doing the bullying.
To me hazing in high school and college is stupid. My class/group in high school and college put a stop to the old traditions from older players. I mean it is straight up sick! The main issue is a mix of people who are just really immature and followers to people who really think that stuff is funny. To me I want my team to be strong and together both mentally and physically so we can win. But when you have divisiveness it makes it hard.
How to set a healthy culture for your team
Set a new culture, especially if you are lucky enough to be one of the best players. Whether you are one of the best players or you are friends with one of the best players, get together and make a plan. Get as many people on the team who are on your thinking level and make sure that you will all stick up for each other. As the bullies get together to plan, you do the same and plan on how you can stop them or change them. Don’t be left alone not talking to anyone about it.
Often times these types of bullies continue even through their adulthood. So even if you can’t stop it, have your circle of friends to vent or talk about it. If the situation continues after several players and the coach have spoken to the bully, then that player might need to see a counselor or get help with what they are dealing with. Often times it’s just immaturity that can be fixed. If not then the player may have to be suspended or removed from the team. Bullying in youth sports wont stop completely, but you can help your corner of the world by simply being aware and educating others.
Educate yourself on bullying in youth sports
Staying up with all the newest trends and things going on with the youth is key. Websites like stomp out bullying is a great way to know how to talk to your parents, friends or kids. Having regular conversations is a great way to stay plugged in. Don’t ask if your child is being bullied, but do ask if they are enjoying their time, if they have ever seen anyone else on the team be bullied or if they have ever bullied anyone. This should open something up if these thins have been happening.
Teaching kids to treat others with respect
I think the key for me was that nobody close to me ever bullied me or made serious fun of me. A stranger making fun or calling names wasn’t a big deal because they didn’t know me. If it would have been a teammate or schoolmate, I think it would have been harder to deal with. That’s why it’s important to raise your kids right and teach them that you don’t make fun of people. Bullying in youth sports is an issue we all need to work on together.
Putting yourself in others shoes
Teach your kids and friends to be respectful and put themselves in other peoples shoes. Anyone can get put in a situation where they are the total outcast. Think about how it would feel if you were the only person different than everyone else, or if you were the only one who was picked on. Wouldn’t feel good would it. So finding that right fit on a team is important, so that you have a supporting role. Then knowing that you might not get it every season.